Rapid biotic molecular transformation of fulvic acids in a karst aquifer


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November 2007


The study of molecular transformation processes of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in the environment significantly contributes to a better understanding of the global biogeochemical organic matter cycle. In an oxic karst groundwater system, in which the most powerful abiotic DOC degradative reactions, photodegradation and metal-mediated redox chemistry, are at best marginal contributors, a near complete turnover of fulvic acids (FAs) has been observed within decades (∼60 years). Depletion of oxygen for a very extensive range of aliphatic and aromatic carbon chemical environments has been confirmed as well as the formation of novel classes of compounds, suggesting a major contribution from biotic processes. From these results we infer that FAs must be perceived as a rather active participant in the global carbon cycle. Molecular-level alterations of such magnitude and rapidity on such short-time scales ought to be considered as widespread in the processing of “refractory” DOC in the environment.


Dissolved Organic Carbon, Doc, Refractory, Biotic Molecular Transformation, Fulvic Acids, Karst Aquifer

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Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Vol. 71, no. 22 (2007-11-15).